First off, thanks to everyone who posted with suggestions for my boyfriend's birthday dinner. We were going to go to Camaje, but then a colleague suggested that Le Souk on Avenue B would be fun and not too expensive. So we went there and had a totally wonderful experience!
We sat out in the back garden with lots of candlelit tables and tapestries on the walls. (next time, we'll go with a group and reserve the tent with all the cushy sofas.) And all throughout the meal, they had great Arabic music playing in the background. We started with the mezze platter, which was presented on the kind of tiered contraption that you get when you have afternoon tea. There were lots of dips (hummus, etc.) and some nice bread to dip into them, some phyllo wrapped lamb packets and a tuna salad wrapped in phyllo. All were very tasty and deliciously spicy. As we were eating these dishes, a belly dancer appeared and danced around all the tables, which made it all the more festive. We had a bottle of wine ($28) and we shared the lamb tagine entree, which was great, the meat just falling off the bone. My boyfriend ordered a hookah, which comes with a very nice flower water. (As a non-smoker, I loathe the smell of cigarette smoke, but the hookah didn't bother me at all - it was kind of like incense...) All of that, plus an unmemorable chocolate dessert, came out to only $110. The service was a little spotty, but we weren't in a hurry, so it didn't bother us. I would definitely recommend it for a group or a nice dinner, and I've also heard that the bar in front has a great late night scene as well.